Arkansas tort reform amendment in the works

story by Roby Brock, a TCW content partner and owner of Talk Business
roby@talkbusiness.net

House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Chairwoman Rep. Andrea Lea, R-Russellville, says consensus is forming for a proposed constitutional amendment on tort reform, and she sees other ideas gaining traction.

In an interview on Talk Business Arkansas’ daily webcast/podcast, Lea said she is convinced a tort reform referral will be made from a Joint State Agencies committee later in the session.

“I’m thoroughly confident that some level of tort reform will come out,” Lea said.

The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down major provisions in a tort reform law that was passed nearly a decade ago. There are several proposals currently drafted that could give voters a chance to replace the part of the law that was struck down.

The House State Agencies and Senate State Agencies committees will consider as many as 37 proposals to alter the Arkansas Constitution. State lawmakers can refer up to 3 proposed constitutional amendments for voter consideration in the next general election. A quirky provision also allows a fourth proposal if it involves salaries of elected officials.

A full list and description of all 37 constitutional amendment proposals appears at the bottom of this post.

Lea also said that a proposed amendment to alter the state’s ethics laws, which could include a term limits extension, is receiving much attention.

Also, efforts to make highway commissioners and Game & Fish Commission members elective offices is garnering buzz. While Lea has drafted one of those proposed constitutional amendments, she’s not sure it will be referred.

“I’m not positive that it’s good public policy. I think it’s worth discussing, that’s for sure,” she said.

Lea added that, in particular for highway commissioners, the recently enacted half-cent sales tax for highway construction and repairs could benefit from oversight by an elected highway panel.

“Let’s make sure it’s spent fairly throughout the entire state,” she said.

Lea said that she plans special hearings later in the session to allow sponsors of proposed constitutional amendments to air their measures. And, the third-term representative said she plans on letting any and all members express their viewpoints on the proposals.

“I want to make sure that all 20 members feel equal in getting to have their voice heard. I didn’t feel that way 2 years ago and I didn’t feel that way 4 years ago,” said Lea.

Link here for the video interview with Lea.

PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
HJR1001 – TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO CREATE THE RAINY DAY TRUST FUND

HJR1002 – PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO AMENDMENT NO. 73, SECTION 2, OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS TO LIMIT THE TOTAL NUMBER OF YEARS A MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAY SERVE

HJR1003 – PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO AMENDMENT NO. 42 TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS TO PROVIDE FOR ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF THE STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION BY POPULAR VOTE

HJR1004 – THE ARKANSAS LEGISLATIVE EQUALIZATION AMENDMENT

HJR1005 – AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING THE PROCESS FOR SELECTING A JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT AND AMENDING PROVISIONS CONCERNING SERVICE ON THE SUPREME COURT

HJR1006 – AMENDING THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO ALLOW A COUNTY TO ABOLISH THE TOWNSHIP OFFICE OF CONSTABLE IF APPROVED BY A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE

HJR1007 – AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO ALLOW THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO DETERMINE THE MANNER OF PUBLISHING NOTICES REQUIRED BY VARIOUS SECTIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION

HJR1008 – TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING THE DEDICATION OF ROAD-USER REVENUE TO STATE HIGHWAYS, COUNTY ROADS, AND CITY STREETS

HJR1009 – THE ARKANSAS ELECTED OFFICIALS ETHICS, TRANSPARENCY, AND FINANCIAL REFORM AMENDMENT OF 2014

HJR1010 – PROPOSING A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT CONCERNING THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AMENDING THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION

HJR1011 – PROPOSING A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO AMEND AMENDMENT 80 OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION AND OTHER CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS CONCERNING CIVIL LITIGATION

HJR1012 – PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING THE JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT OF STATE GOVERNMENT

HJR1013 – AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO CLARIFY SUBSTANTIVE AND PROCEDURAL LAW AND RIGHTS UNDER AMENDMENT 80 TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION

HJR1014 – TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING THE JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT OF STATE GOVERNMENT

HJR1015 – TO AMEND AMENDMENT 82 TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING OBLIGATION BONDS FOR LARGE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

HJR1016 – THE ARKANSAS PUBLIC PRAYER AMENDMENT

HJR1017 – PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

HJR1018 – TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING THE APPLICATION OF ARKANSAS LAW AND UNITED STATES LAW

HJR1019 – TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING THE ELIGIBILITY OF CERTAIN PUBLIC OFFICIALS TO HOLD A CIVIL OFFICE

SJR1 – AMENDING THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO REQUIRE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO PROVIDE THAT A VOTER VOTING IN PERSON SHALL PRESENT VALID GOVERNMENT-ISSUED PHOTOGRAPHIC IDENTIFICATION BEFORE RECEIVING A BALLOT

SJR2 – THE TORT REFORM AMENDMENT OF 2013

SJR3 – TO AMEND AMENDMENT 35 AND AMENDMENT 42 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF ARKANSAS TO REQUIRE THAT MEMBERS OF THE ARKANSAS STATE GAME AND FISH COMMISSION AND THE STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION BE ELECTED

SJR4 – THE TAXPAYERS’ PROTECTION AMENDMENT

SJR5 – PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING CIVIL CLAIMS AND COURT PROCEDURES

SJR6 – AN AMENDMENT TO CHANGE THE POWERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND THE COURTS REGARDING RULES OF PLEADING, PRACTICE, AND PROCEDURE FOR COURTS, APPEAL RIGHTS, AND COMPENSATION OR DAMAGES AWARDED BY COURTS AND ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES

SJR7 – AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING ADMINISTRATIVE RULES PROMULGATED BY STATE AGENCIES

SJR8 – PROPOSING A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING APPORTIONMENT; AND TO CREATE THE ARKANSAS APPORTIONMENT COMMISSION

SJR9 – TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO CLARIFY AN INFAMOUS CRIME UNDER ARTICLE 5, SECTION 9

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SJR10 – TO AMEND THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION TO REFORM AND REVISE CERTAIN TAX LEVIES

SJR11 – AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING THE PROSECUTION OF ELECTION FRAUD

SJR12 – AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING COUNTY CONTRACTS FOR PUBLIC BUILDINGS OR BRIDGES

SJR13 – TO AMEND PROVISIONS OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING LOCAL INITIATIVE PETITION DEADLINES

SJR14 – PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING STANDARDS OF ETHICS FOR CERTAIN PUBLIC SERVANTS

SJR15 – PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING THE POWERS OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM

SJR16 – PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE 5, SECTION 1, OF THE ARKANSAS CONSTITUTION CONCERNING INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM

SJR17 – THE ARKANSAS INDEPENDENT CITIZENS COMMISSION AMENDMENT OF 2014

SJR18 – THE ARKANSAS ELECTED OFFICIALS ETHICS, TRANSPARENCY, AND FINANCIAL REFORM AMENDMENT OF 2014

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Comments

Separation of Powers

This current legislature needs to grasp that the Judiciary is a separate branch of government and not just a state agency for them to control. Their power grab is in direct conflict with the basic tenants of our democracy. But who is really surprised, these same folks, now that they are in power, are trying to extend those pesky term limits as well.